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FALL, 2001: Volume 6, Issue 3

Kwisomo Workshop Report by Adrien Niyongabo

On Carolyn’s and my trip to Mutaho and Kwisumo, we attended the Sunday, August 5, service at Mubuga Friends Church. This church has been given birth by the Cagura Friends Church. Now it is growing. In fact, it has given birth to two other churches: Ngozi and Rwamiko. More than 500 people were gathering. Some of them had to stand outside because of lack of space. For that reason Mubuga Church members want to build a new and big church. May God help them!

Carolyn had the pleasure to preach that day. Her sermon was based on peace building. With holy scriptures and some Quaker testimonies from all over the world, she came to say that God created people not for fighting or killing each other, but for living in peace. To emphasize what she said, I told the church members that in our daily life, conflicts are unavoidable and it is up on to us to surmount them. How? With love, that love which has been given by Jesus Christ to us. For that, we will not hurt others. We left that church with a hope to meet again.

Our last workshop was the Kwisumo one. After a long way, from Ngozi to Ruyigi, we finally arrived there on Monday, August 6, 2001, after a stop at Gitega where we slept Sunday night. Tuesday morning we went to Kwisumo which is 12 Km from Ruyigi town. We were at Kwisumo Friends Station around 9:00 A.M. Some could have said that it is a forgotten land, but let us say an abandoned one. Only the Friends Station’s buildings and some few houses around can tell you that Kwisumo was a lovely place before the crises. Many other houses have been completely destroyed and people had to flee to Tanzania or to other places. But when you look around and see the hills covered with trees and the wind making them dance, you will not say that it is a forgotten land. More than that, on our way, we met people. Some were going to draw water, others with hoes on their shoulders going to work in their fields. Just to say that there is life at Kwisumo.

Adrien Niyongabo and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jodi Williams, in South Africa.

We met people at the station. They were well-dressed waiting for the workshop to start. The workshop started at 10:00. I welcomed the participants after two Kirundi religious songs. As usually, after the self-presentation for each participant, I went on with the BTHRC history, emphasizing the peace building tradition of Quakers. Afterwards Carolyn presented, “What Is Trauma?” As in previous workshops, she defined trauma as an event which destroys your worldview. She talked about feelings that occurred after traumatic events and the four forms (physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral) under which trauma can affect someone.

When Carolyn was talking, some of the participants were drying tears with their hands and in others’ faces you could read how painful it was. I thought that telling stories could have been better than the kind of workshop we were doing that time. And when I asked how many would like to share their stories, many hands were lifted up. Just three of them had the opportunity to share. To others, we said that we would have time for that in the future.

From the open discussion, participants suggested to have a site at Kwisumo and recommended us to bring our trauma teachings beyond the Friends Churches because, they said, it is very helpful. We finished our workshop with a nice lunch. Tea was also served; it is Burundi Friends tradition. Twenty-four participants were in our workshop.

On our way back to Bujumbura, we were pleased with the work done and praising the Lord for having kept us safe during that trip. That was the first time we spent all week up-country doing workshops.

As one who have been in all the workshops we have done, I can say that we need serious interventions, from whoever, to deal with the TRAUMA that has occurred in BURUNDI. For sure, people (Burundians) are in need of a breathing space.

See this issue Update On The African Great Lakes Initiative and earlier issues of PTN for more.

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